In a pentatonic piece (let's say the pitches were Bb, C, Eb, G, and F) can you have a D or an A, just not on a strong beat?

  • Rather rhetorical - once there are more than 5 (different) notes, it can't be technically pentatonic. Do you mean more like, in the key of C, can we use , say, an F#?
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 11:38

3 Answers 3


If you do, it by definition won't be a pentatonic scale "compliant" (for lack of a better workd) piece anymore. It would become a piece in the key corresponding to the notes in presence.

If you are in the process of modulating to an other mode, or pentatonic scale, then the note would still be in the five pitches of the next mode.

So, no, in theory you would have to stand to the original notes of the scale.

  • For a melody written in the pentatonic scale, cani use chords that include notes not in the pentatonic scale? If the pentatonic scale is supposed to remove tension, wouldnt those chords ruin that effect? Commented Mar 6 at 2:43

If this is just for yourself then yes, you can do whatever you think sounds good. If bringing in notes outside the scale you are working with sounds good to you then absolutely do it.

However, if this is for a class assignment, then I would follow the guidelines of the assignment to the letter. When I took music theory in college I got docked points on a composition for using notes/chords outside of what was "acceptable" for the time period we were studying...in this case it didn't matter at all that those outside chords sounded good to me. lol


If it sounds good you can do it. BTW all the notes you listed would be in the scale of Bb Major or G natural minor.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.